Smiling faces and extra hands greeted us everywhere we turned during our recent stay at Beaches in Turks and Caicos. It is hard for me to imagine an easier place to travel as a single parent with two young kids in tow. I brought Finnegan and Declan to Turks & Caicos without Russ and I was nervous that I was going to be stressed out the whole time and regret my decision to book the plane tickets all together. The reality was much happier. This wasn’t our typical trip exploring a new country or learning about a different culture, but it was a vacation. And it really did feel like a vacation – even for me.
Beaches is the family friendly version of Sandals. There are two Beaches resorts in Jamaica and one in Turks & Caicos. The resort in Turks & Caicos is the largest and it is absolutely enormous. There are four different ‘villages’ within the resort and it’s easy to walk between them.
The Caribbean Village is the oldest part of the resort, but is centrally located and the rooms are close to the ocean and kid’s club. The Italian Village has the largest pool and is close to everything, including the beach. The one thing that I didn’t like about the Italian Village was the tower design for the rooms. Some of the towers were six stories high, which would have been inconvenient with two small kids.
The French village is very close to the water park, but it is set back away from the ocean. Finnegan liked the pool in the French Village the best. Their favorite restaurant (sushi of course) is also located in this village along with an amazing coffee shop.
We stayed in the Key West Village, which is the newest part of the resort. Our room was in the East Village located at the very far end of the resort. We loved our room and after I rented a two-seater wagon from the Kid’s Club for $10 a day, I didn’t mind the long walk to other parts of the resort. I actually appreciated all of the walking because it was my only form of exercise during the trip. If you travel there with young kids, you should definitely plan to bring a stroller or wagon.
Our room was the least expensive one available at the time that I made our reservation just a few weeks in advance of our stay and it was even nicer than I expected. When we made our reservation, the rooms were 65% off the published rack rate. We booked a one bedroom concierge villa and it included more space and amenities than we really needed. The villa included a living room, four-person dining room table, kitchen with industrial grade appliances, a fully stocked bar and refrigerator, washer and dryer, and bedroom with a king sized bed. There was even an Xbox set-up in the living room, but I’m too old and the boys are too young to play video games. The room was also very close to the beach and we could see the ocean from our front porch. With all of the amenities that are included at this resort, it was surprising to learn that we had to pay for internet access. Since Skype was our only option for keeping in touch with Russ, I paid $42 to have internet access for the week.
We spent very little time in our room outside of nap time and bed time (which is really the point of going to a tropical destination during a frigid Northeast winter, isn’t it?) so I would have been perfectly happy staying in the cheapest room at the resort. There are 44 different room categories from which to choose and they vary dramatically in terms of price.
Everything that I read about Grace Bay beach before arriving was true. The ocean is a brilliant turquoise and the sand is as soft as powder. The area in front of Beaches is the most crowded strip of sand on Grace Bay beach, but it’s easy to take a short stroll to find a spot that you can have all to yourself. We only went to the beach once because Declan didn’t like the sand getting stuck to his hands or the sun glare. There were very few people on the beach when we went right after breakfast and the water was crystal clear and extremely calm. Finnegan was more interested in building sand castles than swimming so we didn’t test out the depth of the water, which is funny since it was one of my reasons for choosing Turks & Caicos as our destination.
The best part about the resort was the friendliness of the staff. Everyone greeted us with a smile and made us feel like they were happy to help. Have you ever noticed how most bartenders in tropical locations seemed mildly (or outwardly) annoyed when you order a frozen drink? Not so, at this resort. They gladly made our strawberry daiquiris (non-alcoholic of course) and didn’t make us feel guilty that they had to clean the blender yet again. As an added bonus, many of the other guests were extremely friendly as well. One woman in particular was like my own personal angel. I started calling her Saint Heather because she always seemed to magically appear any time I could use an extra hand. On our first night at the resort, Finnegan had a blister on the bottom of his foot tear open and was having a hard time walking back to our room. Declan was sound asleep in my arms so I couldn’t carry both of them. (This was the reason that I raced over to the kid’s club in the morning to rent a wagon!). Right on cue, Saint Heather walked by and offered to give Finnegan a piggy back ride all the way to the restaurant where we had dinner. She even went back to her room and got a band-aid and antiseptic to clean his foot! Another time, she walked by as the boys were complaining that they were hungry and she gave both of them animal crackers. Thanks again Saint Heather from Ottawa!
On the downside, we did have a bit of a mix-up with our luggage when we arrived and it was ‘lost’ for 24 hours. Because of our short connection time in Atlanta, I packed strategically and we had everything that we needed for our first day except toothpaste and sunblock because I didn’t want to deal with having liquids in our carry-on. The manager at the front desk was extremely apologetic and personally delivered toothbrushes, toothpaste, a razor, and a stuffed Grover doll for the boys. He also told me that I could purchase sunblock in the resort gift shop and they would cover the cost, which they did at check-out – no questions asked. It’s not clear how or why the luggage was misplaced, but it was delivered to our room the next day with everything in order so it was only a minor inconvenience. Problems can easily arise during a hotel stay and it’s the manner in which they are resolved that really counts. I thought the staff at Beaches handled our situation perfectly and left us happy customers. Just look at this smile.
Overall, we thought the resort and the staff were amazing. We would gladly return for an easy and relaxing vacation that involves no planning.
Have you ever stayed at this resort or another Beaches? What did you think? If not, would you consider this type of all-inclusive vacation?
Next up will be a review of the activities at this resort. Hint: they are amazing!